Lebanese designers are on a mission: to rule the red carpet. But those on the international circuit face a difficult balance of pleasing both fashion critics and Middle Eastern clientele alike—two camps whose tastes aren’t particularly aligned. Zuhair Murad, who has been showing in Paris during Haute Couture week since 2001 (and on the official calendar since 2012), is one designer who appears to have found a workable balance in past seasons.

But for this season’s 47-dress collection, intended to represent Murad’s ideal Parisienne—sensual and understated—was anything but. Instead, most of the numbers he sent down the runway were rather opulent and intricate.  A sequence of white and gold numbers made for a delightful starting note, hinting at a tasteful kind of opulence. Sheer column dresses belted with two golden leaves, a beautiful bolero top and pencil skirt with gold buttons, an embroidered black and white pant suit, and a series of flirtatious gowns with floral embroideries adorned with embroidered animal motifs, in ivory, black, and gold—all in all, the first twenty looks most captured our attention.

But then came the second half of the collection and the plentiful flower appliqués, which matched with the digitally printed bucolic backdrop. The more embellished dresses took hours of work, especially the wedding dress adorned with 25,000 blossoms, but these pieces were ultimately the demise of the show. As soon as the palette turned to washed-out pastels, the enthusiastic start was quickly forgotten. The citrus color paired with lilac, the lace insertions, the fitting on some dresses, and the overwhelming number of flowers showed Murad to be too heavy handed on this collection.

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